Saturday, June 28, 2014

3 ingredients to look for in a writing group


The 3 the key ingredients to a successful writing group

27 years and counting - that's how long I have belonged to my writing home, The Alberta Romance Writers' Association. ARWA is one of the longest running, self-supporting craft oriented writers' groups in Alberta. We started as romance writers dedicated to supporting and educating romance writers. We're still here. We must be doing something right.

Time changes all things and our group is no exception. Our members now write not only romance but also  mystery, suspense, crime, paranormal, SIFI, fantasy and more both for the adult and YA markets. Numerous members are published in short stories and poetry and many wrote or write non-fiction on the job and in magazines, newspapers and books.

Over 400 people have belonged to the group at one time or other with about 50 active members each year. 30% of our membership are distance members - either living outside Calgary or traveling much of the winter and the average attendance at meetings is fifteen.


  • First and foremost it offers a safe haven for all writers- those who want to publish and those who write for themselves. Within a policy of maintaining non-judgmental attitudes members are encouraged and shown how to use feedback methods that support and inform.
  • Educating writers on how to write better remains at the core of workshops, events and discussions. The accumulative expertise within the membership is astronomical.
  • Active, engaged members share their knowledge, in writing skills, career expertise and technical assistance for social media, MS formatting, marketing and more.
  • Hard working volunteers run the workshops and fund raising events (with a breakeven-or-better philosophy) and provide liaisons with the larger writing community.
  • Low annual fees. I know of no where else to get the level of professional training ARWA offers for $50 a year.  (Subject to change although it has not changed in over a decade.)



  • 14 novels published this year (2013-14)
  • 5 more scheduled to publish before the end of 2014
  • 16 short stories published
  • 12 or more finished first drafts






  • craft and marketing workshops (1 evening and 1 Saturday per month- 10 months a year)
  • a public web site and Facebook page
  • a private Facebook page for members
  • 10 newsletters a year
  • challenge teams (writing support pods geared to various levels and stages of writers )
  • Beta Readers, cover input, assistance in areas of self-publishing or traditional submissions
  • launches and blog boosts for our published books
  • outside speakers on various topics from police work to play writing
  • camaraderie and support
  • shared information on all things writing related

BONUS BENEFITS -Writing friendships 

There's nothing quite like sitting in a room with a group writers, talking about writing. Nothing quite like writing friends you can email or Skype when you've had a horrible writing day or a fantastic story idea.

There's nothing quite like WRITERS and ARWA has writers.

Do you belong to a writing group? What is the best thing about your group?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's an angel to do?



Julian's Chance

by Jessica L. Jackson

“I’m telling you straight out now, honey, that I’m the most selfish bastard you will ever know.”

Gabriella is returning to Earth with a new assignment. She’s to help Julian Gath learn how to love. She’ll be reborn as a mortal and only come into the knowledge of who she is—an angel—on her twenty-fifth birthday. When she completes her mission, she will return to Heaven. That is the way of things for angels for she proved her worthiness many lifetimes before. This is Julian’s chance to prove his.

But, the moment her eyes are open, she knows that this mission is different for her. The love she feels for this powerful, compelling man goes far beyond the charitable love she usually has for her charges. He makes her yearn for life…
Julian Gath wants Gabriella. To him, she radiates something pure and good. He has to have her—to feel as if all that goodness is working in his favor. Something in his life has to be right and good. No matter what it takes, he will win her for his own. He will not love her, however, because love is a weak, useless emotion that does not last. She will be the one bright star shining in his shadowy world… 



Most have just one opportunity to don mortal bodies, to determine what this strange new life could teach them. Some noble and valiant spirits return again and again, living only until some important point has adjusted in the favor of the Father, stealing away an advantage from the lost spirits whose sole goal is to destroy every mortal’s chance at eternal joy.

A soft cough sounded and Gabriella looked up from her studies of the intricate DNA combinations necessary to create an earthworm. Her supervisor smiled and bustled into her chamber.
“How are the studies going, hmm?”
Gabriella leaned back to allow Marta to look at her work. A soft sigh escaped her lips before she could contain it. With Marta here, clearly another assignment awaited. Not that she minded, precisely, but she felt herself to be at the brink of a true understanding of DNA. The knowledge hovered just out of her reach, teasing her. Perhaps, after this assignment, she would be able to easily take hold of the figurative brass ring, for with each rebirth, life, and death, came greater clarity of understanding.
“Almost there, almost there.” Marta patted Gabriella’s slender arm and settled her plump self into a nearby chair. Her brown eyes, usually so merry, contained the serious light that confirmed Gabriella’s suspicions. “His name is Julian Gath and he will need to learn how to love. On the dawn of your twenty-fifth birthday, you will come to a remembrance of your mission…”

Buy Your Copy Here: Julian's Chance

Visit Jessica Here: Jessica L. Jackson or Here Jessica L. Jackson-Facebook

 Or check her out at:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sin Eater...high stakes and deep danger

The Searching for Series has a new author with a compelling YA novel

LIFE as a teen is fraught with issues - but sin eating and ancient demons make navigating life worse they anything you can imagine.
Click on Cover or title to purchase
What would your life be like if your brother was a convicted serial killer? Lonely, as seventeen year-old Sara Shaughnessy knows. She’s spent the last decade on the fringes of society, hated and bullied. And her life is about to take a turn for the worse. 

Van Dyk’s novel takes us into the dark world of sin eating and ancient demons, a place where the stakes are high and no one is safe. 

Dee Van Dyk is a professional writer living and writing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is the author of three non-fiction books (Conspiracy Theories, Hurricane Katrina Survival Stories, and Hurricane Hell) published through Altitude Publishing. Her first fiction novel (Sin Eaterwas released in June 2014.
Her work has appeared in many North American magazines and publications, including PROFIT, Canadian Living, Homemaker’s, Write Magazine, Alberta Venture, FiftyPlus,  Mocha Sofa, Campus Starter, WestJet Inflight Magazine, Jetsgo Inflight Magazine, West Word, Beltline Outlook, Madame, Home Cooking, Food for Thought, Student Counsellor,  Canadian Writer’ s Journal, Avenue, Moving To,,, CanLearn and Visitor’s Choice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#2 in the Caleb Cove Mysteries IS HERE

IT'S HERE... Katya Binks Came Home From Away

If a Bluenoser* leaves Nova Scotia he/she is deemed to be away whether they've gone to Toronto or Timbucktoo. When they return, they have come home from away.

Example:  "Did you hear? Alex MacLeod came home from away for Christmas."

Katya Binks Came Home From Away

What do you do if you find out your life is a lie?

Kelsey Maxwell searches for the truth and walks into the middle of a heap of trouble. Running from killers wasn't what she had in mind when she set out on her quest. Dead bodies, a knife held to her middle and chases through the dock area liven her previously dull life. A sexy ex-cop provides protection but in the end, Kelsey may have to shoot to kill in order to save her birth father. No matter what happens, her life is changed forever. Will she even survive to reunite with her father and connect with the sexy Sam Logan?

*Bluenoser - A person who is Nova Scotia born.  Follow the link to find out why.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Introducing new author, Makenzi Fisk

It's a joy to find a new writer to work with... 

Makenzi joined my writers' group back in the fall of 2103, and I have had the pleasure of working with her and being one of the first readers for her manuscript. She brings not only writing skill but her considerable knowledge as a former police officer to the story. Her first book (shown below) is on the market, and she assures me that volume two is being written. Good thing too. I enjoyed the first one and I'm looking forward to the second.

Makenzi Fisk 

Makenzi grew up in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. She spent much of her youth outdoors, surrounded by the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield.
Moving west, she became a police officer with experience in patrols, covert operations, plainclothes investigation, communications and forensic identification. Within the policing environment, she transitioned to internet and graphic design. She now works for herself.

In her novels, Makenzi draws on her knowledge of the outdoors, policing and technology to create vivid worlds where crime, untamed wilderness and intuition blend.  Her novels’ characters are competent women who solve crime using skill and a little intuition.

Currently Makenzi resides in Calgary with her partner, their daughter, and assorted furry companions. 

It's even better when a first time author writes a good book...

Makenzi's First Release - Just Intuition 

 A woman disappears when a shadowy figure turns to murder in a northern Minnesota town. Years later, the murderer strikes again, and an elderly woman burns to death in a fiery blast.

Small town cop Erin Ericsson doesn’t believe it was an accident. With the help of a quirky fellow officer, she defies the investigating detective to pursue the case on her own.

Her girlfriend Allie begins to suffer terrifying visions with a connection to the malevolent presence. Enlisting her reluctant cooperation, Erin struggles to interpret the meaning of the cryptic dreams.

Her police work and Allie’s uncanny insight lead them through unforgiving back woods and face to face with evil. Together they use their skill, and a bit of intuition, to unmask the culprit behind an escalating series of deadly crimes.

For a taste of her writing, check the blog done June 16, 2014 for:

Monday, June 9, 2014

7 Random Facts About Mahrie G. Reid

A big thanks to my long time writing friend, Lorraine Paton who tagged me with a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. She's a fluid writer of romance, a dynamite workshop presenter and a patient teacher of things technical. Check out her books on her web site or find them at Devon's Second Chance and Annie's Christmas Plan .

Her challenge came awhile ago and I'm slow getting to it because I've been putting final touches on my second book. It's now off to be published (thanks to wonderful training from Lorraine and others in my group) and here I am.

By accepting, I am required to: 
  • Link back to the person who nominated me for the award.
  • Display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.
  • Reveal 7 things about myself.
  • Nominate others to receive the award and continue the fun!

7 Random Facts about me

  1. I am a PK - raised in Presbyterian Manses in small eastern towns. 
  2. I started speaking in public when I was 12 years old.
  3. My food passion is Rice Crispie Squares - cannot leave them alone.
  4. My favorite color is Rust... (but not on my car).
  5. I am a mother of twins (MOT) and a grandmother of twins (GOT).
  6. I lived in 12 different towns/cities (a couple of them twice at different times.)
  7. I spent ten years as a marriage commissioner in Alberta and performed weddings in odd places.

And I nominate the following writers to join in the fun (if they choose to participate)

What do we not know about you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lorraine Paton: 13 Tips on Book Cover Design

Lorraine Paton: 13 Tips on Book Cover Design

As always, Lorraine delivers concise, practical information as well as links to further ideas. If you are planning your cover, read her blog first!